Gainesville, Florida

Best Places to Retire in Florida


Gainesville (population approximately 118,000) is located in north central Florida. It began to develop, grow, and prosper in the post civil war years, with an economy based upon the phosphate and citrus industry.  The arrival of railroad connections spurred development and brought more tourists, investors and speculators.  By the turn of the century, it was a town of over 30,000 people.  One of the most significant events was when Gainesville was chosen as the site for the University of Florida.

Gainesville today, in addition to being home to Floridaís largest and oldest university, is a center of education, medicine, cultural events and athletics. The city has numerous parks, museums and lakes, and it has taken care to preserve its historic buildings and the beauty of the natural surroundings.  Two thirds of the surrounding county is wilderness, interspersed with scenic lakes and wetlands. Gainesville is one of the most attractive cities in Florida and it continually ranks as one of the best places to live in the U.S.

The city offers all the amenities, including an active arts calendar, big-time college sports, shopping, cuisine ranging from ethnic choices to pizza to fine dining, excellent golf courses, continuing education opportunities, outstanding healthcare, and much more. The surrounding areas offer beautiful rivers and lakes to explore and unspoiled wilderness parks.  There is cycling, canoeing, horseback riding, hiking, fishing, birding, and more. Within a 2-hour drive, you can visit historic St. Augustine on the east coast, go to Disney World in Orlando, or attend an event in Tampa or Jacksonville.

Arts & Culture

University of Floridaís Phillips Center for the Performing Arts hosts a wide array of performers and events throughout the year. Included are Broadway productions, world-class guest artists, symphony concerts, choral music, and dance.

University Auditorium hosts programs, most of which are performed by groups from with the University, such as the School of Music.

Acrosstown Repertory Theatre –

Gainesville Community Playhouse is the oldest community theater in Florida.  Each season it produces six shows, typically three are musicals and three are either dramas or comedies.

High Springs Community Theater is a private non-profit corporation that produces four main stage productions each year, and Summer Youth Theater Program.

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, affiliated with the University of Florida, offers a collection that includes sculpture, Chinese ceramics, American paintings, etc. There are over 6,000 pieces of art in the collection.

Archer Railroad Museum –

Florida Museum of Natural History –

University of Florida Galleries, a part of the School of Art & History, has various galleries, exhibitions and programs.


The Gainesville area is unusually rich in natural settings, both with the heart of the city, and the surrounding lands. There are healthy populations of native animals and thousands of species of native trees, plants, and wildflowers.  You can stroll, ride your bicycle or a horse on the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail.  You can spot butterflies, many species of birds, or see an alligator.

The Alachua County Parks & Recreation Department manages a system consisting of 25 parks with a total of 1,306 acres and an area known as Chapmanís Pond.

Gainesville Recreation and Parks Department manages all of the cityís parks and recreation facilities.

There are a number of good golf courses in the greater Gainesville area.  This site lists them and provides links to each course.

The term ìGatorî refers to the University of Florida athletic teams ñ not to the reptile ñ when you are in north-central Florida.  The school has outstanding athletic programs.


The University of Florida has an enrollment of 45,000 students in 16 colleges.  More than 100 undergraduate majors are offered, and most classes are limited to no more than 25 students.

Santa Fe Community College is a public community college founded in 1966.  It offers Associate degrees in Arts, Applied Science, Science, Advanced Technical Diploma, and Certificates. Total enrollment is over 21,000.

Senior Programs

Senior Centers in Gainesville include:
McGurn Center/YMCA, 1303 NE 23 Avenue  (352) 379-9622
Porterís Community Center, 512 SW 2 Terrace  (352) 334-3366


Shands Healthcare, affiliated with the University of Florida, is one of the Southeastís premier health systems.  It includes nine hospitals and over 80 primary and specialty physician practices. Its medical staff includes 1,500 faculty and community doctors.

North Florida Regional Medical Center is a full-service medical and surgical acute care referral center service 14 counties.

Veterans Administration Hospital  – (352) 376-1611, or 271-5000


Gainesville Regional Airport is served by five commercial airlines.



Gainesville Sun –

Property Taxes

Alachua County Tax Assessor –

State Taxes

Chamber of Commerce

State Aging Agency


Ocala – 40 miles
Jacksonville – 71 miles
St. Augustine – 80 miles
Orlando/Disney World – 114 miles
Tampa – 132 miles
Daytona – 117 miles

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